Discipline spoils a great effort
Points taken from away games at La Rochelle are far and few over the seasons and tonight’s game will as always be another tough one, both teams have players on International – Nations duty so that also equals out any controversy over missing players. As per usual there was a full house to watch this game, the crowd attendance at La Rochelle is second to none and always a very hostile place to play but at the same time reasonably fair.
The game started and Montpellier were first to score with a try by the young Henry Immelman, who gets better every time he is selected, the conversion was missed but 5-0 all the same, excellent start by Montpellier. It did not take too long for the home side to score and get themselves a slender lead, the scrums were posing massive problems for Montpellier with Daniel Brennan suffering on his first start for his new club, scrum near the Montpellier try line, Vito takes the ball from the back of the scrum serves Bales on a plateau and over he goes, West converts and the score 7-5 to the hosts. Minutes later Sazy was on the scoreboard with a try, another scrum devoured by La Rochelle and over he went, West missed the extras but the score moved onto 12-5. Benoit Paillaugue reduced the score with a penalty but La Rochelle looked in command of the game, Montpellier defended well but was on the back foot for most of the first half. There was a spate of penalties against Montpellier and after the 4th or 5th Mon Trainini produced 2 yellows, the culprits Ledevedec and new boy Daniel Brennan who was having a nightmare in the set pieces, this was not going to help the Montpellier plight. Just before half time and having 2 yellows Montpellier attacked and Jan Serfontein was tackled just short but managed to escape the tackle by taking his hands off the ball then reclaiming it to go over for a very clever piece of guile and ingenuity, Benoit added the extras and Montpellier went to the break with their noses in front 12-15 and all to play for in the second half.
The second half started with Montpellier showing that they will not sit down and surrender, Jacques Du Plessis was forced over the try line with a little help from the rest of the forwards, Benoit kicked the extras and Montpelier had created a nice lead 12-22, but there was still 30mins left on the clock and this game was going to see more scoring. Rates went over in the corner, West missed the extras but that moved the score onto 17-22, this game was going right to the wire, and the Maritimes forwards were beginning to take charge of this event using force and aggression, the scrums were not good for Montpellier with the reverse gear stuck and uncontrollable. Another penalty for La Rochelle and again West knocked it over now 20-22 and the crowd roared on their stars, Montpellier defended like lions but it was for all to see that the lines could be broken at any time. Benoit Paillaugue got another 3pts. for Montpellier to give them the smallest of breathing space but the next onslaught came and Novo was forced over under the sticks, much to the enjoyment of 99% of the crowd, this gave La Rochelle the tiniest of leads 27-22, there was little time left on the clock for Montpellier, but they did try and get back but La Rochelle defended with their lives and kept them out, final score 27-25.
A bonus defensive point for Montpellier but it could have been so much more, they had their chances, some they took, but a negative scrum and some awful discipline cost them dearly. You cannot play against these good teams with 2 yellows and 20mins with only 14 on the park, the fatigue is present at the end of the game when La Rochelle showed how much stronger they were, so back to the drawing board to get this all corrected. Firstly it’s holidays for most barring our selected International players, a good time maybe to rest the tired legs and get the head set into the right place, as being 9th in the Championship with less and less games to play, it will not be easy to get back into that top 6th place for the play-offs.